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Finding the words to cope

21 October 2022, Impact of Our Work

Romanian language classes for Ukrainian children

In a bright classroom at a school in Bucharest, a group of children carefully follow the lines with their scissors while sneaking glances at the progress of their peers. They’re cutting out pictures of animals as part of a language exercise.

“We are learning Romanian here,” says Irina, 10.

I feel more comfortable here. It's better to be here than at home there, sitting on the phone. And here I study, communicate, I'm just not bored here.


Yulia (left) and Irina (right) have found the summer classes welcoming
and enjoy the chance to do something new each day.

Living with heartache

Irina is part of a group of Ukrainian children taking Romanian-language summer classes. She was forced to flee from Ukraine after the recent escalation of conflict, and now lives with her mother in Bucharest.

She remembers clearly the day the sirens went off and she had to flee with her mother. “It was somewhere around four in the morning. My mother woke me up quickly, we began to quickly pack things. We got into the car and drove off. We were supposed to go to my grandparents, but we couldn't. We went to friends. And we lived with them for about a month. And then we came home and decided to leave here, to this country.”

Nikolina*, 7, from Ukraine attends a Romanian-language summer class run by teachers
from Save the Children Romania.

Despite reaching safety in Romania, Irina worries about her father and grandparents who are back in Ukraine.

Now, I am very sorry that I left my family, and moved to another country. But then I was very scared, I was afraid for everyone. And now I'm watching the news, I'm in shock. I am very worried about everyone. I even have a little heartache sometimes, because I worry about everyone.


A warm welcome

Thanks to the efforts of concerned supporters around Australia, Save the Children has been able to provide food, hygiene products, clothing, toys, social vouchers and counselling to Ukrainian refugees in Romania. We established a Child Friendly Space at the Northern Railway station where families arrive to offer support and resources for both children and mothers. 

Now, to help children access educational opportunities and prepare to enroll in school, Romanian language courses and recreational activities are being offered during the summer. 

Ukrainian children attend a Romanian-language summer class run by education and MHPSS specialists
from Save the Children Romania.

“I really like that everyone here is friendly and welcoming. No one met me with angry or sidelong glances. On the contrary, everyone was happy. I liked it very much. I also like that there is something new every day,” says Irina. 

In addition to helping Ukrainian children adjust to a new language and country, the classes are enabling them to recover from their traumatic experiences and begin to think about the future again.

“In general, I like being with small children. I might want to be a teacher … Or I want to become a health worker, very badly. I like to help people,” says Irina. 

*Name changed to protect identity.
Photos: Anna Pantelia / Save the Children.

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